Who Gets Custody Of A Pet During A Divorce?

Law Blog

Pets are often seen as a part of the family, but a courtroom will treat a pet as a piece of property. The individual who brought the pet into the marriage is the most likely to receive the pet during a divorce, but this isn't always the case. If you feel like you will be having a tough battle over your pets, this is worth bringing up with your divorce attorney.

Divorce Negotiations

Even if the pet was brought into the marriage by your partner, you may still be able to obtain ownership of the pet through negotiations. For example, you might be willing to give something else up in exchange for the pet. You might also show that you are the individual who primarily took care of the pet.

Separate and Marital Property

During a divorce, the two types of property are separate and marital property. Property is more likely to be considered marital if marital resources are used to pay for it. For example, if marital assets pay for your pet's food and medical bills, the court might consider it a part of your marital assets.

Because a pet is considered property, the value of the pet will be relevant when determining who will get the pet. For example, if the pet was very expensive, the spouse who receives ownership of the pet may have to give up on other assets that are divided by the court. Therefore, you will need to discuss with your divorce attorney how each decision will affect your divorce. If you have more than one pet, you may only receive custody of half your pets unless you can argue that your ex will not be able to take care of an animal.


While a pet is considered to be property, there are some cases where you might be able to negotiate the visitation of your pet. However, in many jurisdictions, this is something you will need to resolve with your partner out of court.

The Well-Being of the Pet

When seeking the custody of a child, the court will take into consideration the best interest of the child. However, with regards to pet, the court will usually not take the pet's best interests into account except in a limited number of jurisdictions. Even when a jurisdiction takes the best interest of the pet into consideration, they will often focus on who is better able to take care of the pet above all else.


31 January 2022

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